This country has had no shortage of crusty street preachers, split-lip soothsayers crawling across glass-littered asphalt to cough up a truth few are brave enough to bear. Many such men and women of contrarian faiths and dissident ideas found a haven in Providence, Rhode Island. It’s no surprise then that such a town claims the likes of Lightning Bolt, Buddy Cianci, and Daughters.
The latter is a band that first sprouted from the dense soil of grindcore, but quickly disassembled the DNA of blast-beats and sweeping riffs into the squealing sermons of Hell Songs. Vocalist Alexis S.F. Marshall shed the high-hertz screams for a more verbose hardcore warlock approach. He continuously holds court with a flood of prophetic proclamations while guitarist Nicholas Andrew Sadler summons haunts with an unrelentingly squiggly, upper-necked style while the drummer Jon Syverson and bassist Samuel Moorehouse Walker stack rhythm upon rhythm with precision ordnance. The entire album is meticulous madness, articulated chaos pirouetting in a puddle of pure bile.
Such bands can’t help but spin out, as Daughters did so in the midst of recording their third album Daughters. Where Hell Songs seethes with serpentine craft and structure, Daughters builds a dance floor varnished specially for menace. This is the primary emotional register of the band—after giving up grindcore, every moment of their songs writhed like a worm under the skin but only rarely burst forth, and never satisfyingly long enough. The third album bubbles with all the same ingredients, but now the listener is the one who’s buried alive, gasping for air but given long lengths of rope to climb along with the band.
Melodies radiate while the songs spin mud for more than the typical minute-thirty of their earlier catalog, they are more comfortable pupating for some time, giving Marshall the time to turn rock n roll’s parlor-trick repetition against itself. The buzzing laser licks emerge as misshapen ear-moths. The menace pummels you, drowns you, hauls you up for air, and god damn it swings. Daughters got you shaking your hips, headlining a club for vampires and lycanthropes. In the end your hands are in the air, hoarsely hollering along with the undead congregation.
They managed to reunite a few times, but I dared not hold my breath for more music. What good was hope, and even then, how could any new spells possibly live up to these dizzying astral projections? After all the legendary shows of self-destruction, spiritual debasement, staring non-stop into the blinding abyss of an eclipse, what could possibly follow? Any band in Daughters position would balk under the weight of their own history and proclamations.
But Daughters have always ever lived by their own midnight covenant. They’ve continually shifted and squirmed, always adjusting the parameters within which they settle on peril. The surprise drop of their new single “Satan in the Wait” continues this tradition. Their first true dirge, a roiling seven minute riptide that coats Sadler’s guitar in a new sea salt shimmer while Marshall continues to caterwaul to the pockmarked moon. It’s still Daughters precisely because they’ve once again found a new wavelength within which to scratch the walls, tear out their hair, spitting in the eye of the void. They’ve twisted the tones of gothic harpsichords to their bent perversions, casting hooks towards the thunderclouds. If the song feels unfamiliar, it’s because you were never quite listening, but I’m ready to be consumed again.